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State Crime: The Best and Worst Criminal Justice Systems

Whether you’re considering moving to a new state, or if you just want to get a better understanding of public opinion and policy where you live now, how a state runs its criminal justice system is a strong marker of success.

Criminal justice is defined in brief as the ways and efficiency with which law enforcement officials and state-specific systems capture, put to trial, and sentence people who have either pled guilty to a crime or suspected of one. 

The ways in which various justice systems respond to and punish crime vary based on state crime laws.

Evaluating a justice system allows people to determine the safest states in the US, and figure out where crime rates are especially high. This can help you make choices about where to move, how to protect yourself, and the level of awareness you need to have. 

Read on to learn more about the most dangerous states in America and those that have the best state crime justice system. 

The Toughest States on Crime

Remember that, as we discussed above, state crime and the justice system’s response to it doesn’t just deal with catching criminals. 

A state’s criminal justice system also outlines how those criminals should be punished. 

That being said, let’s take a look at the states where you’ll receive the harshest punishments for violating the law.  

As of this writing, Oklahoma has the highest rate of incarceration in the country. However, this does not mean that Oklahoma has the highest crime rates in the US — far from it, in fact. (We’ll talk more about the most dangerous states later on in this post.) 

Louisiana is also known for its high rates of incarceration, as are Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Florida. 

Overall, the average prison sentence in the United States has increased by roughly five years over the past decade or so. Today, the average prisoner will spend about ten years behind bars. 

To put things into perspective, in Oklahoma, you’ll stay in prison for committing a nonviolent crime for about 80-100% longer than elsewhere in the United States.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, crime rates in Oklahoma have decreased over the past few years. This is likely a result of the known longer sentences. 

The Safest States in the US

So, what is the safest state in the US? 

Currently, Maine is known as the safest state in the country.

Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean just that Maine has the lowest state crime rate in the country. It also means that its criminal justice system is among the most effective. 

So, yes, Maine has a lower amount of crime than most, but it also has a better police force. 

Other safe states include Vermont, New Hampshire, and, perhaps surprisingly to many, New Jersey. Remember too, that some of these states have smaller populations, which means that crime is less likely to occur in the first place. 

Other especially safe states include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. 

The good news is that the same study we linked to above also confirmed that crime violent crime rates as a whole are on the decline within the United States. 

What Are the Most Dangerous States in America?

Now, let’s talk about the most dangerous states in America.

As with our other rankings, remember that this means that not only do crimes happen much more frequently in these states. It also means that law enforcement and the criminal justice system isn’t as effective as it is in other parts of the country. 

As of this writing, Louisiana is the most violent state in the nation, with New Mexico ranking fairly close behind. Alaska and Nevada have also become much more dangerous within recent years. 

The same can be said for Tennessee, South Carolina, and Maryland.

Kentucky has also long been on the list of the most dangerous states in the country. Despite attempted reforms, law enforcement in the state continues to struggle to keep crime rates down.

The details of the Kentucky criminal justice system are complex, but new representatives are pushing for change.

What’s the Best Prison in the US?

Finally, let’s close this post by talking about the most effective prison systems within the United States. 

When we talk about prison effectiveness, we mean not just that courts are likely to sentence those found guilty of crimes to jail time. We also mean that the prisoners in these states have a better chance at rehabilitation.

In some cases, a strong prison system may also mean that prisoners are generally treated better than they might be in other states. 

Many experts consider the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado to be at the top of the list of excellent prisons. Another well-respected prison is the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. 

Yes, incarceration is on the rise in the United States for some crimes, but the recent push towards softening sentences for more minor crimes may mean a larger overhaul of the prison system as a whole. 

Are You Concerned About Your State Crime Rates?

We hope this post has helped you to get a better understanding of both state crime and the different criminal justice systems in the United States. 

Remember that even if you feel safe in your home, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Make an emergency plan with your family, find hiding places, and teach children how to respond in the event of an invasion. 

Looking for more advice on how to keep your family safe? Need to stay up-to-date regarding crime in your state? 

Bookmark our blog to keep up with the latest crime news. 

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